The impending departure of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame coupled with the loss of West Virginia certainly won't kill the Big East, but it will weaken both the brand and the product in what has been the nation's best basketball league more often than not recently. The hits could keep on coming for the Big East, too, if Connecticut or Louisville find a stronger football conference willing to invite them aboard.
Despite all the impending upheaval, this season in the Big East holds just as much promise as any of the past few years. Louisville returns the core of last year's Final Four team, Syracuse has the young talent to reload rather than rebuild and Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Georgetown all have the potential to contend in the conference and make deep runs in March.
The favorite is Louisville because of the Cardinals' deep, talented roster headlined by playmaking point guard Peyton Siva, interior scorer and rebounder Chane Behanan and shot-blocking center Gorgui Dieng. This year's Cardinals again probably won't have a player who averages more than 12 or 13 points per game, but they'll go 10 or 11 deep and play the relentless pressure defense that has become Rick Pitino's trademark.
For all the well-deserved optimism about Louisville's chances of winning the Big East and contending for a national championship, the Cardinals do have some flaws. They lack proven perimeter shooters with Kyle Kuric gone and Mike Marra lost for the season due to injury. They also need Siva to perform with the steadiness and consistency he showed during the NCAA tournament rather than during the regular season when an ankle injury contributed to turnovers and unreliable shooting.Read More »from Big East Preview: Louisville enters as the favorite, but there’s no shortage of contenders